New Foto Tip by Mark Alberhasy - A Perspective on Lenses

Discussion in 'Australia Photography' started by Wayne J. Cosshall, Oct 20, 2006.

  1. Hi All,

    I've just posted the latest Foto Tip by Mark Alberhasky on DIMi:

    It is on lenses and I can heartily endorse Mark's great advice. Mark is
    a Nikon Mentor in the US.



    Wayne J. Cosshall
    Publisher, The Digital ImageMaker,
    Publisher, Experimental Digital Photography
    Coordindinator of Studies, Multimedia and Photomedia, Australian Academy
    of Design
    Personal art site
    Wayne J. Cosshall, Oct 20, 2006
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  2. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mr.T Guest

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been saying the same thing for years!

    Mr.T, Oct 21, 2006
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  3. No you are not. But of course with newcomers migrating to dSLRs all the
    time it does need to be said again and again. It see it with my incoming
    students all the time. Their idea of a fast lens is f4 and a really fast
    one f2.8. It is the zoom mentality. Now nothing wrong with zooms, I love
    my ones, but they are not the whole answer.


    Wayne J. Cosshall, Oct 21, 2006
  4. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Herb Ludwig Guest

    Not mentioned in Mark's article:
    The need for a "fast" lens has become less pressing with today's DSLRs
    providing for 4- stop ISO changes, e.g. from ISO 100 to 800, with virtually
    no sharpness / noise penalties (and decent pictures even at 1600 or 3200),.
    Get me right, I love to use my f1.4 prime lens and agree with the
    "Cartier-Bresson" approach to learn to see through just one focal length. On
    the other hand, Mark's "No more zoom in, zoom out. You've got to look for
    the right subject and the right composition" is misleading. Any decent
    photographer w/o a zoom will use his legs to get the right framing!
    Herb Ludwig, Oct 21, 2006
  5. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mike Fields Guest

    Well, maybe not quite that simple -- a) the refs get a bit
    upset if I am out in the middle of the soccer field during
    the game to "get the right framing" and b) many times,
    I want a different perspective between the foreground
    subject and the background (mountains etc) - it takes
    a different focal length to get the perspective right too
    (yes, you still need to use your legs to get it right though)

    Mike Fields, Oct 21, 2006
  6. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Herb Ludwig Guest

    Yes, of course, there are a number of situations where the legs alone won't
    do it.
    Indoors, for instance, where a nasty wall may soon crowd one's effort to
    step back-:)
    Thanks for pointing out the importance of the foreground / background
    I use my Canon DSLR with 3 lenses (17-40 f4 Zoom, a 50 f1.4 Prime and a
    70-200 f4 Zoom) and find that I take about 50% of my pictures with the 17-40
    f4 lens, because I like its perspective on a 1.6 crop camera.
    Herb Ludwig, Oct 21, 2006
  7. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mike Fields Guest

    I have seen more people bitten with the foreground/background
    thing. Out in the open country somewhere with a beautiful
    mountain backdrop, they shoot the picture of someone from
    up close with the wide angle then notice when they get home
    the "magnificent mountain scenery" that was there when they
    took the picture is just a couple of little bumps behind their
    subject. Always the same comment "gee I don't understand,
    the mountains looked so much bigger when we were there".
    Step back even 10 feet, zoom in a bit to frame the subject
    and voila - the mountains are there !! (unless you live in
    Kansas, in which case, there is no hope for mountains .. )

    Mike Fields, Oct 21, 2006
  8. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Herb Ludwig Guest

    When one wants to enhance the size of distant mountains, the condensed
    perspective of a tele lens is certainly the way to go. My personal taste for
    landscape images goes rather in the opposite, wide-angle direction, where
    the foreground subject is emphazised and the feeling of depth enhanced.
    Therefore my preference and reliance on the 17-40 f4 Zoom.
    Here is an example of the kind of image I strive to emulate:

    Herb Ludwig, Oct 21, 2006
  9. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Tuli Guest

    Beautiful photos!

    Tuli, Oct 21, 2006
  10. I always thought they did that so that when they photographed their girlfriend
    in front of the Eiffel Tower/Taj Mahal/Sydney Opera House/whatever, they would
    be able to admire her without being distracted by that heap of junk in the

    James McNangle
    James McNangle, Oct 22, 2006
  11. The thing is, yes we all know this but many others don't. It is easy to
    forget that new people are coming to photography all the time as a new
    hobby, or moving up in their attention to it. Things like stepping back
    and using a longer lens has to be learned. And even using the feet
    instead of the zoom has to be learned.

    It is not automatic, especially now that the standard lens sold with
    effectively all cameras is a zoom. For beginners, zooms give the
    impression you can stay in one spot and get a range of results, which
    you can. But learning that this is not always what you want to do needs
    to be taught. It is one of the many things we have to teach students.


    Wayne J. Cosshall, Oct 22, 2006
  12. Yes; a very attractive picture. But the next picture (Fleetwith Heather) makes
    me sad -- I didn't realise they had all that cotton wool polluting the water in
    the Lakes District ;-) [I know a lot of people like that fuzzy water, but I
    think it looks much better taken with a short exposure so that it is nice and

    On a more serious vein, I feel that it should be possible to flip through a
    photo album without having to re-centre the images on each page. After some
    effort, I have managed to design a photo album which will (almost!) display
    correctly on a 1024 by 768 screen with 810 by 540 pixel landscape photos and
    400/450 by 600 portrait photos. See: 2004.htm

    The pictures in the album you refer to are a fraction smaller, but the images
    will not display correctly without re-centring on a screen less than about 900
    pixels high.

    On the other hand I do like the neutral grey back ground. Perhaps I should try
    something similar in my albums.

    James McNangle
    James McNangle, Oct 22, 2006
  13. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mike Fields Guest

    Excellent pictures. Looks to me like you got it just
    right - only thing missing was all the sheep that we
    saw when we were over there about 20 years ago.
    Seems like EVERYWHERE was sheep !! You are
    right about the landscape images and the lens - what
    I was thinking more of is when you want a picture
    of the kids etc with Mt. Rainier or some such as
    a major part of the picture instead of the little bump
    in the corner of the picture.


    Mike Fields, Oct 22, 2006
  14. Wayne J. Cosshall Guest

    I think quite a few comments in this thread are a bit missleading.... we
    need to remember that perspective does NOT change with focal length.

    Perspective will only change when we move our feet and change the subject
    distance... this of course means that we will use a longer FL to frame the
    subject as tight as being close with a shorter focal length, but the
    important fact is that the persective only changed because we moved our
, Oct 22, 2006
  15. Wayne J. Cosshall

    JC Dill Guest

    Meanwhile, I shoot with a 1.3 crop factor camera (1D Mark II) and I
    have the opposite reaction. I have a 24-70 and a 70-200, and have
    borrowed the 17-40. I ONLY used the 17-40 for fireworks photos. Each
    time I put it on the camera thinking I'd try some wider views, I kept
    finding myself on the 40 end and wishing I had more telephoto. I've
    been using the 70-200 as my primary lens, and only reach for the 24-70
    occasionally. The 17-40 is not on my shopping list but the 1.4
    extender is. :)

    JC Dill, Oct 22, 2006
  16. Wayne J. Cosshall

    G.T. Guest

    You mean like this if someone was in the frame:

    Or with Mt Rainier even bigger?

    G.T., Oct 22, 2006
  17. Wow! How did they manage to levitate Mount Rainier?

    Mount Rainier should definitely bigger, but the buildings are perfectly composed
    in this photo, and to get the same effect with Mount Rainier bigger you would
    have to move back to a more distant vantage point (after you had found a longer
    telephoto), and my recollection is that the choice of vantage point offering
    this view is strictly limited.

    James McNangle
    James McNangle, Oct 22, 2006
  18. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Herb Ludwig Guest

    Of course, perspective is not a function of lens focal length. Perspective
    is a function of the distance of objects from the lens. However, in common
    language usage it is customary to speak in terms of perspective as wide
    angle, normal, or telephoto perspective.

    Ron Bigelow in his excellent tutorial
    "Advanced Composition" (Part3) approaches this dilemma as follows:

    "The first thing that needs to be done is to destroy a misconception about
    perspective. Many people believe that perspective is a function of lens
    focal length. This is incorrect. Rather, perspective is a function of the
    distance of objects from the lens. However, it is easy to see how this
    misconception comes about. When wide angle lenses are used, the foreground
    objects are typically placed close to the lens and the background objects
    are relatively far away. This creates one perspective. When telephoto lenses
    are used, typically, both the foreground and background objects are fairly
    far away from the lens. This creates a different perspective. So, it appears
    that the two lenses create different perspectives. In reality, this is not
    the case -- it is not the lenses that create the different perspectives; it
    is how the photographer uses those lenses to change the relative distances
    of the foreground and background objects with respect to the lens.

    However, in real life, wide angle lenses are used in certain ways, and long
    lenses are generally used in different ways. Thus, it is often easier to
    think in terms of perspective as wide angle, normal, or telephoto
    perspective. Therefore, for the purpose of ease of explanation and
    understanding, the rest of this section will cover the topic as if
    perspective was a function of lens focal length. In spite of this, those of
    us in the know understand that perspective is really a function, not of
    focal length, but of how we use that focal length."
    Herb Ludwig, Oct 22, 2006
  19. Most of this discussion has centred on pictures with two subjects -- girlfriend
    and Taj Mahal for example, and in these the relative perspective will certainly
    change with focal length. The serious photographer will usually use people only
    to indicate the scale of the scene, so he will step back until the people look
    suitably small, then he will adjust the focal length to compose his picture. If
    there is only a single person in the picture it is generally better to have them
    looking at the scene, rather than the camera. For an example of this type of
    photo see (There are number
    of other examples of people used as portable foreground in this album.)

    On the other hand the Japanese photographer will invariably stand his girlfriend
    in front of the scenery, looking at him, and will take the photo from fairly
    close so that the scenery doesn't distract from her. My wife complains that I
    use her as 'portable foreground', and only photograph her back, so each trip I
    pretend I am Japanese, and take one or two portraits of her with the scenery as
    a backdrop. See, for example

    James McNangle
    James McNangle, Oct 22, 2006
  20. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mike Fields Guest

    Nice pix from the Queen Ann area. That is the idea,
    but I was thinking more along the lines of when we
    are down there - there are times it is really nice to
    bring the mountain right in tight. Then there are other
    times as people have pointed out where the wide angle
    is best. Took me a while to realize the most useless
    lens for me to buy with a 35mm was the normal 58mm
    lens - it was either not long enough to bring in what I
    wanted or it was not wide enough for the scenery pix
    I was taking (I used a 28 and 35mm a lot with film).
    Yours is a good example of bringing the mountain
    into the view though.

    I guess the point I started out trying to make was as
    someone else pointed out - there is no "correct" one,
    it is a case of recognizing what the effects of different
    lenses and relative distances between the foreground
    subject and background and how they interact.


    Mike Fields, Oct 22, 2006
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